By Devika Bedi
According to government officials, the state of Assam is under a growing state of unrest, being called as a “disturbed” state. AFSPA (Armed Forces Security Personnel Act) has been in Assam since November 27, 1990, after the militant group ULFA (United Liberation Front of Assam) turned rebellious.
Sparks flying in Assam?
The act’s life cycle has been extended with effect from August 3 by one more month. Neighboring areas of Arunachal Pradesh and the 20 km long border with Meghalaya is also enveloped in the act. As a new general rebellious stint, there have been cases of stone pelting and crackers are being thrown at police stations in these areas. The areas where the act is executed include fourteen police stations; namely in districts of Papumpare, West Siang, East Siang, Lower Dibang Valley, East Kameng, West Kameng, Namsai, Lohit district, Lower Subansiri in Arunachal Pradesh. The Assamese are facing threats, both economically and politically, by more than three nations and one must maintain third party indifference before voicing strong opinions.
A draconian and undemocratic law
AFSPA has been projected with critical jurisprudence for abrogating fundamental rights. History has seen a constant criticism by pressure groups like humanitarians, opposition parties, UN advocates and civil liberty groups. It is true that AFSPA has not helped Kashmir regain its peace, law and order, but it may be too early to compare the horrors of Kashmir with those of eastern India. AFSPA as a law is chronologically draconian. The British implemented it in 1958 to tackle the Quit India movement. According to this, the army gets undisputed legal immunity to interrogate terror suspects. It negates legal dissent and humanitarian discourse pre or post the arrest. Simultaneously, while many are condemning its presence in Assam, their influence of strong rhetoric expressed by the neighboring Chinese fraternity has given another angle to the argument. The government is criticized for its inability to find alternative solutions to the Tri-junction dispute. It is understood that militant groups like ULFA, NDFB, and many others are employing anti-social tactics that are agenda drive. According to officials, they are trying to regroup and re-strengthen, thereby targeting local outfits of laborers, tea-planters, farmers, contractors, businessmen and petty thieves, and sometimes even second-rung officials and politicians.
The never ending quest for peace
In the conundrum between the repeal or appeal of AFSPA, one should make sure they maintain humanitarian standards for the army personnel as well. If the state is compelled to withdraw the AFSPA from where it exists now, it must also ensure that peace replaces it. Troubled civilians and militancy identifies the security as the sole representative of the government and a rough, uncut withdrawal of such acts may cause more harm than good. While the larger picture is to restore peace across globe, more nationally, the government must democratically educate the pressure groups about the pros and cons of this draconian practice, its futuristic effects and its circumstantial need. Dissent cannot occur on battlefields but must be present in the Parliament and news rooms.
Featured Image Source: Pexels
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